Awesome Friday: 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival Roundup

I went to the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival! This is my third year covering the festival and this year I reviewed 15 movies for Awesome Friday! Here is a selection of those reviews.


A man lives alone in a small house in town so small you’d probably miss it if you blinked driving down the highway. He’s never been married, he has no kids. He starts each day with a cigarette, a vigorous yoga routine in his underwear, and the walk into town to do his morning crossword and see his friends.

I’m sure this wasn’t exactly Harry Dean Stanton’s real life but Lucky is clearly a movie about Harry Dean Stanton.

Link: VIFF Review: ‘Lucky’ is the perfect swan song for Harry Dean Stanton


Thelma begins with two things. First, a warning that if you have epilepsy the movie might set it off and second, a father and his young daughter walking in the woods, hunting. The girl sees a deer and inches forward, transfixed. The father readies his gun and aims at the deer and then slowly changes his aim to the back of his little girls head. He doesn’t pull the trigger it’s clear from the get go that he desperately wants to. Then the movie starts to get interesting.

Link: VIFF Review: ‘Thelma’ and the existential dilemma that is becoming yourself

In The Fade

Fascism is on the rise in the world. It’s easy living on this continent to forget that it’s happening elsewhere. In The Fade isn’t directly about the resurgence of Nazism, but those themes never the less play an important part in this story of family, justice, and revenge.

Link: VIFF Review: ‘In The Fade’ will net Diane Kruger all the award nominations

The Queen of Spain

I really like movies about making movies. I think they’re a fun way to explore and poke fun at the film making business. I also like period set comedies, in particular those set in the late 40s and 50s. I like the design sensibilities and I feel like the feel good image of that era that still lingers today is one ripe for subversion. Also also, I really like Penelope Cruz. I think she’s a dynamic and interesting screen presence.

The Queen of Spain then is a movie that should be right up my alley: it’s a period set comedy about making a movie starring Penelope Cruz. Turns out it’s not though.

Link: VIFF Review: Penelope Cruz can’t save ‘The Queen of Spain’

Borg / McEnroe

The rivalry between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe was one of the ages, and their match at the 1980 Wimbledon Championship is probably one of the greatest matches in the history of tennis. Borg, on track to win his fifth consecutive title had a reputation as being cool and graceful under pressure. McEnroe, the new comer at the beginning of his ascendancy had a reputation as a hot head who regularly threw tantrums on the court and argued with umpires. Even their styles of play were opposite with Borg playing from the baseline and McEnroe rushing to the net. Literally everything about this match makes it ripe for a great movie which is why it’s so frustrating that it isn’t one.

Link: VIFF Review: ‘Borg vs. McEnroe’ is frustratingly not quite good (but Shia LaBeouf is great in it)


It’s easy to say that Columbus is architecture porn for one good reason: it is architecture porn. Video essayist Kogonada’s feature film début frame buildings in ways that I can’t recall seeing them framed before: not only in just the right light and at just the right angle, but with just the right context. This is why it’s misleading to say that it is architecture porn: because it’s so much more than that.

Link: VIFF Review: ‘Columbus’ is one of the years best

I’ve only linked 6 reviews here but I watched and reviewed 15 in total. You can read all my reviews and coverage from VIFF 2017 at Awesome Friday!

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